A Review of Business Not As Usual and Reader
Hugh Aaron's new book doesn't quite have it all. Sure you can
find blood, guts, pathos, drama, comedy, tragedy, wisdom, and
even sex in its pages, but something's missing. The book is
refreshingly unacademic; perhaps that's one reason it's so
effective as a tutorial manual for running businesses today.
Aaron's 240 page narrative, an expansion of an article series he wrote for
the Manager's Journal column of The Wall Street Journal, is candid
and wise, but also cuttingly self-critical. Perhaps that's why he coined the
book's subtitle, "The story every CEO in America should tell, but won't."
As he takes readers into the hills, valleys and trenches he
occupied for two decades as chief executive of his own company,
Aaron makes it clear that whatever wisdom he's gained has been on
the job -- often at a very high personal price. Having
successfully faced virtually all of the vicissitudes, challenges,
frustrations, and satisfactions any business could offer, he
writes about it all in a down-to-earth tone. Moreover, Aaron is
clearly at ease discussing his past failures. He unabashedly
throws the spotlight on management ploys gone awry, bad hiring
decisions, and episodes of misjudgement in the marketplace.
"My theme throughout this book is," says Aaron in his preface, "Accept
responsibility for what happens; face the truth no matter how brutal it is;
and don't expect quick fixes and easy solutions." As the book's chapters
unfold, that philosophy is tested again and again -- in thriving times as well
as recessionary years.
Throughout it all, the author demonstrates his belief that
people are the very heart of the matter -- whether he's talking
about the nuts and bolts of creating an incentive plan for
salespeople, giving part ownership of the company to employees,
or struggling with a recalcitrant business partner. Instinct and
intuition are not enough , it seems. Arriving at good decisions
requires experimentation in the laboratory of the workplace. For
all of his unacademic demeanor, Aaron is a master scientist.
Doug Sprei, Rochester Business Magazine
Comments from Readers
"They [your articles] make me think I would like to have worked for your
John F. McDonough, Staff Director-Employee Publications
New England Telephone
"Your article in The Wall Street Journal was of particular interest to
me because it mirrors so much my personal philosophy in the building of Marion
Ewing M. Kauffman, Chairman Emiritus
Marion Merell Dow Inc.
"Business Not As Usual certainly
took me back to my days teaching management courses, but, once again, you handled
the subject well: less as a dry, instructional treatise and more a personal
how-to journal. Your message rang true to me even though what I have dealt with
is federal government managers. In many ways the current milieu of downsizing,
buyouts, re-engineering, etc. apply almost identically to government as they
do to the for-profit world of business. And certainly many of your practical
solutions and guidelines are every bit as applicable to managers of any sort."
Alice S. Dashiell,
Business Consultant, Clinton, MD